Link: Brian Cashman profile in Sports Illustrated

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Last weekend, I passed along a quick story about Brian Cashman telling Derek Jeter he would rather have Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop during the Yankees’ contract negotiations with their captain following the 2010 season. The story came from a recent Sports Illustrated profile of Cashman by S.L Price, which recently made its way online.

The profile covers a little of everything — Cashman’s upbringing, his life through college, getting started with the Yankees as an intern during the mid-1980s, and eventually working his way up to GM. Here’s my favorite paragraph:

In 1989, Cashman graduated Catholic with a history degree and was mulling law school or a job with UPS when the Yankees dangled a position as baseball operations assistant. The way Bowden, just two months into his job as an assistant senior VP, recalls it, Steinbrenner walked the kid into the baseball ops office and into a crowd including Gene (Stick) Michael, Lou Piniella, Bob Quinn, Dallas Green and Syd Thrift. “I want to introduce you to Brian Cashman,” Steinbrenner said. “His dad is a good friend … and someday you’ll all be fired and he’ll be the general manager of the Yankees.” Everybody in the room laughed.

Anyway, it goes without saying the profile comes with RAB’s highest level of recommendation. That’s why we’re linking to it. There’s some really fun and really interesting stories in there. Make sure you check it out.

Game 126: Big Mike Returns


This homestand has not been too great for the Yankees. Not terrible, but not great either. They’re 5-4 in the first nine games, which is fine, except the homestand started with a three-game sweep over the Twins. The Yankees then lost three of four to the last place Indians and have split the first two with the Astros. A win today and it’s a good 6-4 homestand. (Again, not great, but good.) A loss and it’s a yucky 5-5 homestand.

The Yankees have played better at home (37-25, +39 run differential) than on the road (32-31, +15) this year, but not this month. They’re 7-8 with a -8 run different at Yankee Stadium in August, so after all that talk about the Yankees having a favorable schedule because they have all these home games in the second half, they haven’t capitalized. Lame. Win today, clinch a winning homestand, then go from there. Here is the Astros’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup, featuring the return of Big Mike:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Carlos Beltran
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. LF Chris Young
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Michael Pineda

Nice afternoon for a ballgame in the Bronx. It’s sunny — really, really sunny — with temperatures in the low-80s. Pretty much perfect baseball weather. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: Pineda was activated off the DL, obviously. Also, Nick Goody was called up from Triple-A Scranton to give the team a fresh arm. Chris Capuano was designated for assignment and Nick Rumbelow was send down to clear roster spots. Rumbelow can’t be recalled for ten days (unless there’s an injury), so he won’t be among the first wave up call-ups when rosters expand on September 1st.

Injury Update: Jacoby Ellsbury is day-to-day with a sore hip and isn’t available today. He might not be available Friday either. Ellsbury had some swelling last night but has not yet gone for tests … Dustin Ackley (back) will officially begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton tomorrow … Brendan Ryan is available today after running around in the outfield and pitching two innings last night … Pineda, by the way, will be limited to 80-85 pitches or so.

Thoughts following CC Sabathia’s injury


Two days ago the Yankees placed CC Sabathia on the 15-day DL with right knee inflammation after he left Sunday’s start in the third inning. He does not need surgery, so that’s good, and Sabathia is hopeful he can return once the 15 days are up. We’ll see. I have some thoughts about the injury and stuff, so let’s get to ’em.

1. Sabathia has been very bad this year — 5.27 ERA (74 ERA+) and 4.82 FIP in 138.1 innings — and it’s easy to think the Yankees are better off without him, but remember, they only have four healthy starters right now. Michael Pineda and Bryan Mitchell are both on the DL, and while Pineda is set to return today, Andrew Miller‘s injury earlier this year is a reminder Pineda might not be 100% effective when he first returns. Hopefully he is. Adam Warren could move back into the rotation if need be but he’s not stretched out. He’s thrown more than 35 pitches just twice in the last two months. Removing an ineffective starter from the rotation is a good thing! Assuming you have the depth to replace him. Do the Yankees? Only if Pineda and Mitchell come back from their injuries with no issues, which are big ifs. The rotation was stretched thin even before Sabathia got hurt. Injuries are rarely — very rarely — a good thing.

2. Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman indicated the Yankees will shelve their plan to use a six-man rotation in September following Sabathia’s injury, but I’m sure they’ll still insert a spot sixth starter whenever possible. It’ll be much easier to pull off once rosters expand a week from today. They could plug Mitchell — assuming he’s healthy! — or Warren into the rotation once in a while and have all the call-ups serve as innings-eating arms. The Yankees have used a spot sixth starter whenever possible this season, even when it meant playing with a short bench or a short bullpen, so there’s no reason to think they won’t do it after the Sabathia injury. It just means Mitchell or Warren will make those starts and someone else will be the long man in the bullpen. So the Yankees sacrifice a good bullpen piece to plug their rotation hole. Maybe that’s a sacrifice they can afford to make in September.

3. It’s impossible to know what the injury means for Sabathia and the Yankees long-term. Clearly the knee will have to be managed going forward, but we knew that already. I’m not sure the injury changes anything in that regard. Sabathia said he is willing to pitch out of the bullpen, and that’s great, so maybe that’s where his future lies. Perhaps this latest scare convinced him the knee simply won’t hold up for 100 or so pitches every fifth day. The injury definitely won’t push Sabathia into retirement, I’m pretty confident about that. For starters, he’s not leaving on all that money on the table. It wouldn’t be honorable, it would be stupid. Secondly, Sabathia’s not just going to quit and go out like that. This guy has pitched through everything and is a top of the line competitor. Like tippy top of the line. They’re going to have to drag him off the mound. The Yankees reportedly have insurance on Sabathia’s contract but the exact details are unknown. The policy might only cover his arm for all we know. Insurance usually doesn’t kick in until after a certain number of days missed — the Mets didn’t collect any insurance on David Wright until he missed 60 days, for example — and it might not kick in at all this year since the season is almost over. One thing at a time though. Sabathia’s injury means the Yankees are short a pitcher right now. We’ll have an entire offseason to wonder what it means for the 2016 Yankees. (And 2017 Yankees!)

4. Sabathia’s velocity had ticked up in his recent starts …

CC Sabathia velocity… and he admitted Sunday the added velocity was the result of a “screw it” mentality. Sabathia told Ken Davidoff he had been pitching through knee discomfort and a recent cortisone shot provided minimal relief, so he decided to simply air it out because holding back and trying to protect the knee wasn’t working. The options were a) pitch poorly while trying to protect the knee, or b) put the knee at risk and maybe pitch more effectively. Sabathia did (a) for much of the season, changed over to (b), and it lasted only a few starts. What an awful situation. Either pitch poorly with reduced stuff or increase the injury risk with no guarantee of performing better.

5. Gosh, how much pain must Sabathia have been in to come out of the game like that Sunday? This guy pitches through everything. Sabathia pitched through the bone spur in his elbow back in 2012 even though he couldn’t fully extend his elbow and had limited range of motion. He suffered a Grade II hamstring strain in a September 2013 game and finished the start. Sabathia came right out of Sunday’s game and didn’t try to throw a test pitch or even lobby to stay. He must have been in some serious pain. Criticize his pitching all you want. Sabathia’s always been a team first guy who never didn’t take the ball. To bow out of a game without a fight like that tells you he’d reached the breaking point with his knee. It was too much.

6. The Yankees signed Sabathia to his five-year, $122M extension during the 2011-12 offseason, and he’s now ended each season of the contract injured. In 2012 he had the bone spur in his elbow. In 2013 it was the hamstring. Last year it was his knee surgery, and this year it’s the knee again. (Well, I guess he might not finish this season hurt, but you know what I mean. He’s had physical problems each year.) Sabathia was very much on the Hall of Fame track before these injuries started to set in, and, after all the concern about all those innings on his arm, it’s his legs that are giving out. The bone spur in his elbow has been his only arm injury. Remember when everyone was worried about A.J. Burnett‘s durability when the Yankees signed him? He was healthy during his entire contract and then some. Pitchers, man. They all seem to get hurt, but predicting how and when and why is an exercise in futility.

No Hitting, No Pitching: Astros crush Yankees 15-1

Yeesh, that was bad. The hitting, the pitching, the fielding, pretty much everything. The Yankees were embarrassed at home Tuesday night, falling 15-1 to the Astros for their fourth loss in six games.


Over In The First
This game was not competitive very long. Ivan Nova quickly retired the first two batters of the game before the floodgates opened thanks to a combination of a Jacoby Ellsbury defensive miscue and Nova having nothing. Nova walked Carlos Correa with two outs, which, whatever, it happens, but then Colby Rasmus lifted a line drive to center than Ellsbury misread and allowed to fall in for a triple. Ellsbury initially broke back before having to come in for the ball, and his slide fell short.

Fine, whatever, that shouldn’t happen but it did. One run isn’t the end of the world. Nova couldn’t stop the bleeding there though. He walked Evan Gattis on four pitches, gave up a line drive double to Carlos Gomez to make it 2-0, then gave up a booming two-run double to Luis Valbuena. Four-zip Astros. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single to make it 5-0. Nova then walked Jason Castro before getting Jose Altuve to ground out to end the inning. Altuve made two of the three outs in the first.

The Ellsbury misplay — it was ruled a hit but come on, a big league center fielder has to catch that ball, it should have been an error — definitely hurt, but that inning went well beyond “blame Ellsbury.” Nova had nothing and allowed seven (!) straight hitters to reach base with two outs, including three on extra-base hits. He threw 40 pitches in the inning and the Astros fouled off ten. Nova couldn’t put anyone away. Not the first time that’s happened this year.

When it was all said and done, Nova was charged with seven runs on seven hits and four walks in four innings. He struck out one. Nova has now allowed 17 runs on 34 base-runners in 21.1 innings in his last three starts. Slump? Post-Tommy John surgery wall? Who knows. Bottom line is the Yankees need Nova to be better than this. The offense is struggling and they certainly don’t have the pitching depth to compensate. Ellsbury was only a small part of the problem. Even Nova’s outs were crushed.


Offense? No Offense
The Yankees scored their only run in the ninth inning, when the game was all but over. Ellsbury hit a leadoff single, moved up to second when Chris Young was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a ground out, then scored on another ground out. Not the most exciting rally, but hey, at least they didn’t shut out. Not that it really matters.

All told, the Yankees had four hits on the night: two singles by Ellsbury, a double by Carlos Beltran, and a single by John Ryan Murphy. That’s it. No one drew a walk and they stuck out a dozen times. Dallas Keuchel, who is an excellent pitcher, was on cruise control. Seven scoreless innings and Astros manager A.J. Hinch pulled him after only 88 pitches because the game was so out of hand. Save those bullets for another day.

The Yankees have now had six or fewer hits in each of their last three games, during which they’ve scored five total runs. They’re averaging 3.1 runs per game in their last 20 games. Basically everyone in the lineup other than Beltran and Ellsbury is slumping. Nova could have tossed a gem and the Yankees still would have lost. This is bad, man. Real bad.

Bullpen Adventure
The only pitcher to not allow a run? Brendan Ryan, of course. He tossed two scoreless innings to spare the bullpen. Two innings! He’s the first position player to throw two innings in a game for the Yankees since Stick Michael in 1968. Good gravy. Nick Rumbelow allowed two runs (one earned) in an inning and Chris Capuano was charged with six runs in two innings. He looked like he was pitching hurt for a while. The trainer came out to see him, he threw some test pitches and remained in the game, but didn’t look real comfortable. Hooray for Ryan. Everyone else stunk.


The benches briefly cleared in the sixth inning because apparently the Yankees took exception to something Gomez said or did. Joe Girardi told reporters they didn’t like the way he flipped his bat or something after flying out. Silly. Gomez flew out, jogged down to first, then the bench yelled something at him. Murphy said something to Gomez near home plate before the umpires stepped between them. I’m still not sure what Gomez did wrong. Seems like the Yankees have more important things to worry about than someone flipping their bat in a blowout. (Gomez homered later in the game, so good job?)

Before he pitched, Ryan played a few innings in right field. It was his fifth career game in the outfield and first since 2008. Between the pitching and the extra running, he’s going to be pretty sore tomorrow. I’m not sure anyone on the Yankees had more fun than him though. Ryan seemed to have a blast on the mound. Can’t say I blame him.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. Also, head over to our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages for some potentially useful — or perhaps not — information. Here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The ten-game homestand ends Wednesday afternoon with the series finale against the Astros. Michael Pineda will make his hopefully triumphant return from the DL and make the start. Collin McHugh will be on the bump for Houston in the matinee. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch that game live.

DotF: Jorge Mateo steals 81st base in Tampa’s win

The minor league season ends in about two weeks, and although LHP Ian Clarkin has not pitched in an official game this season, he is currently throwing off a mound based on his Instagram feed. Clarkin’s been out since dealing with some elbow inflammation back in Spring Training. Hopefully he gets healthy enough to pitch in Instructional League in a few weeks. Maybe even in the Arizona Fall League or winter ball somewhere.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 loss to Pawtucket)

  • CF-LF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 K
  • LF Slade Heathcott: 1-3, 1 K — first game since leaving Friday’s game for an unknown reason after running the bases
  • 3B Jose Pirela: 1-3, 1 HBP
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4 — 7-for-12 (.583) in his last three games
  • RF-CF Aaron Judge: 0-4, 1 K
  • 1B Austin Romine: 0-3, 1 HBP
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 13/0 GB/FB — 61 of 99 pitches were strikes (62%) … well, if you’re not going to strike anyone out, I guess allowing no fly balls works
  • LHP James Pazos: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 23 of 38 pitches were strikes (61%)

[Read more…]

Game 125: Game One

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

It’s a new season. The short 38-game sprint begins tonight. The Yankees and Blue Jays are tied atop the AL East with identical 69-55 records, so the best team from this day forward will win the division. Everything that happened in those first 124 games is relatively meaningless. It’ll have no impact on the race from this day forward.

The postseason odds at FanGraphs give the Blue Jays a better chance to win the AL East (54.9% to 44.0%) because the projection systems like their roster better, but to hell with that. The Yankees have that fighting spirit and have been exceeding expectations for about two decades now. This team was supposed to be old and out of the race about eight years ago. It hasn’t happened yet. No reason to think it will now. Here is the Astros’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Ivan Nova

Another nice day for baseball in New York. The sky is blue, the clouds are poofy, and there’s a nice little breeze to offset the Freddy Garcia-esque mid-80s heat. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch locally on YES and nationally on MLB Network, depending where you live. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: In case you missed it earlier, CC Sabathia (knee) does not need surgery … Bryan Mitchell (face) threw a 30-pitch simulated game with no problems. The Yankees will figure out the next step in a day or two after they see how he feels. Mitchell could pitch in a minor league game next … Dustin Ackley (back) expects to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Trenton on Thursday.

CC Sabathia doesn’t need knee surgery, open to pitching out of the bullpen in September


One day after being placed on the 15-day DL with right knee inflammation, CC Sabathia went for a second opinion today, which confirmed he has no new damage in the knee. It’s simply some arthritic stuff that requires rest. Sabathia does not need surgery, neither now nor in the offseason.

Sabathia told reporters he hopes to return to the team after his 15 days are up, and added he is willing to pitch out of the bullpen should the Yankees ask. “Helping the team any way I can,” he said. For what it’s worth, Joe Girardi said moving Sabathia to the bullpen is something they won’t discuss until CC is actually healthy enough to pitch again. Makes sense.

The overall numbers are ugly this year (5.27 ERA and 4.82 FIP in 138.1 innings) but there is reason to think the 35-year-old Sabathia could be effective in relief. For starters, he still destroys lefties, holding them to a .180/.209/.291 (.218 wOBA) batting line with a 30.4% strikeout rate this year. Secondly, Sabathia is at his best the first time through the lineup (via Baseball Reference):

1st PA in G, as SP 24 215 21 51 8 0 8 15 42 2.80 .258 .313 .419 .732 .291 108
2nd PA in G, as SP 24 209 30 60 5 2 7 11 44 4.00 .314 .351 .471 .822 .368 126
3rd PA in G, as SP 22 167 25 51 4 2 11 9 24 2.67 .331 .370 .597 .967 .333 150
4th+ PA in G, as SP 7 12 1 2 0 0 0 2 3 1.50 .222 .333 .222 .556 .286 53

Righties have crushed Sabathia this season (.388 wOBA!), but, if he’s limited to facing mostly lefties in one or two innings bursts, it’s possible he’ll be an effective reliever. Not just effective, maybe even really good. A late-inning weapon.

Sabathia has made just one career relief appearance and that was in Game Five of the 2011 ALDS, when Ivan Nova got hurt and had to leave after two innings. CC allowed a run in 1.1 innings. Moving to the bullpen — if it happens, of course — would take a bit of an adjustment on his part, though September is a good time to work through those issues thanks to expanded rosters.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Sabathia was just placed on the DL yesterday, so he’s at least two weeks away from being activated. That assumes his knee heels up quickly. We’re just going to have to wait and see. Hopefully Sabathia gets healthy soon and the team has to make a decision about his role because everyone else on the staff is healthy and pitching effectively.